Bank strikes may force India into three long weekends of financial holidays

After deferring last month’s strike, the bank employees have threatened to go on four-day strike from Feb 25

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Prahlad Rao | February 4, 2015 | New Delhi



As India gets into budget season and tax deduction pains, the employees of public sector banks have threatened to go on a four-day strike beginning February 25. As we had said earlier, long bank strikes do harm the financial sector and has cascading effect on all businesses.

Read More: Bank staff declares 4-day strike but will not function for a week in January

All India Bank Employees Association General Secretary CH Venkatachalam said if a suitable wage negotiation is not reached, then unions would not be left with any other option but to go for indefinite strike from March 16 onwards.

February is a cruel month for the salaried middle class. Those who have had no luxury of financial planning, find their salaries cut and chopped due to income tax deductions.

Work will also be hit at various offices as beginning February 14 there are three long weekend holiday slots will be on the horizon if the bank strike goes through.

Here is the break up: February 14 happens to be Saturday, Feb 15 (Sun), Feb 16 (Mon) and February  17 (Tuesday) is a holiday as it is Maha Shivratri.  Next weekend will be bank strike (Feb 25 to Feb 28) from Wednesday to Saturday. Since February is a short month, the next weekend from March 6 to March 8 is also going to be holiday slot with March 6 being Holi festival and it fall on Friday.

Bank staff should have relook at the choice of their strike dates and days as India approaches end of financial year.

To be fair, the bank unions have been involved in wage negotiations from Feb 2013.

Indian Banks' Association (IBA), the apex body of management, has bettered its earlier offer of 11 per cent wage hike to 12.5 per cent and then again to 13 per cent.

"Indian Banks' Association (IBA) offered a meagre 0.5 per cent improvement in the pay-in slip cost to 13 per cent which is unacceptable to us," said United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) Convener MV Murali.

The unions demand 19 per cent hike in wages, he says. There are 27 public sector banks in the country with combined employee strength of about 8 lakh. There are about 50,000 branches of these banks across the country.

One-day strike scheduled for January 7 was deferred as IBA had improved the wage hike offer to 12.5 per cent from 11 per cent. The four-day strike from January 21 after the managements assured that wage-related issues will be resolved by early February.

The UFBU includes AIBEA, National Confederation of Bank Employees, Bank Employees Federation of India, Indian National Bank Employees Federation, Indian National Bank Officers Congress, National Organisation of Bank Workers, All India Bank Officers Association and National Organisation of Bank Officers.

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